restaurant hospitality jobs @ harri.com
Life Skills Learned in the Kitchen
Today I am introducing a young dynamic team from New York harri.com to you. Roundabout 3 weeks ago Jacob, the ‘speaks man’ of TeamHarri contacted me in such a nice and friendly way, it was a truly pretty remarkable email, almost a blessing compared to some other ungraceful requests coming in almost on a daily base now. Jacob asked me if he and his team may create a guest post for Klaudia’s Corner. Jacob, I don’t know you in person, but your outstanding polite and educated style has really impressed me. And as that doesn’t happen unfortunately very often nowadays … this really deserves recognition and respect!
Who or what is harri.com?
Life Skills Learned in the Kitchen
It takes a special kind of person to work in hospitality, not to mention becoming a chef or cook in a restaurant. The industry is known to chew up and spit out those who come in unprepared for the high levels of stress, long hours and often low pay. However, along with its hardships and inevitability of raising your blood pressure, the restaurant industry can provide great life lessons that can only be learned in the kitchen.
• Teamwork is Life
To compare the structure of a back of house team to the military is accurate, not to mention the French title of the kitchen hierarchy is called, “Brigade de Cuisine”. If there is one thing each has in common is that the strength of your unit determines your success. With cooks working from 12-16 hours a day, prepping their stations and then throughout service, you are bound to depend on your peers for support. Everyone works together to compose each plate for every single service.
Think of it this way: It’s 8:30 PM on a Friday night, peak dinner service in a high volume steakhouse. A ticket (or an order) comes in for a medium rare NY strip steak, which comes with a side of rosemary roasted potatoes and a lightly dressed haricot verts (French green beans). It takes the muscle of each cook(s) on the grill, prep, saute and expo (sometimes a higher level chef) to get it out in the shortest ticket time possible, at the peak of temperature and taste all at once.
If your prep cook underestimates how many potatoes he or she needs for service and you run out – both grill and line are backed up until they get more potatoes. This could cause the ticket time to be longer, but the steak to over-rested therefore overcooked, the green beans to go cold, resulting in a very unhappy guest – ultimately a loss in revenue. To avoid this other cooks will usually step in to make sure they don’t have a plate “dying in the window” or getting too cold to eat. This militaristic rhythm and trust enforces a strong team effort for the kitchen get the best food out to guests in the optimal amount of time.
• Importance of Hierarchy and Respect
The chain of command in a professional kitchen is usually very specific, although not as a specialized as it used to be years ago, each person has his or her own title and duties. The Executive Chef is sometimes one of the owners and is the top tier of the hierarchy. An Exec may not be at every service, but will usually supervise or even expedite during particularly busy shifts. The Chef de Cuisine, popularly abbreviated as CDC, is the next level down and oversees organizing the kitchen as a whole. Preparing menus, food ordering and leading the team are the main duties. After that Sous, Line, Prep cooks and Tournants/ Stages follow after – in that order.
Knowing each position is one thing, but as a starting cook knowing the chain of command and who to ask is key. If a cook makes a mistake and causes the Executive Chef frustration, he will most certainly be fired. If a Line Cook burns something, then a Sous or CDC may tell them to turn the heat down on his or her pan. There are a lot of personalities in restaurant jobs NYC and BOH can be particularly volatile if someone feels disrespected. Having a clear understanding of who handles which aspects in the kitchen can make or break a cook trying to climb his or her way to the top!
• Set your Mise en Place
Any chef or cook will tell you that your “mise en place” sets the tone for your success for every service. Some may even say that it’s probably the most important principal in cooking. Mise en place is the French term meaning, “putting in place” and is a set of pre-prepped ingredients for service. Unlike home cooks, who might prep some ingredients while they cook, restaurant cooks have their “mise” ready to go so they can turn out elements at their stations as efficiently as possible. A good mise ensures faster cooking time, less prep and shortened clean-up. The third one being key when it’s 3am and your shift ends, especially for those in hospitality jobs NYC.
While setting up your mise, be mindful of cooking flow; each item should be placed accordingly, within reach, before any cooking begins. For instance, left to right, place ramekins of oil, salt, pepper, meat, and then herbs in a row on your board and next to your pan. Your oil would go in the pan first, then you would season your meat with the salt, pepper and herbs, to be added to your now heated pan. Streamlining your “mise” in conjunction with cooking flow allows you to prepare food with very little in-between thinking. As with many routines, this skill helps to cut back on time and encourage efficiency.
Best wishes to Jacob and his #TeamHarri!
Thanks a lot for such an insightful article